I’ve never seen the movie Titanic. Granted, I know the general plot. The hand on the steamy car window. The naked drawing session. “I’m the king of the world!” Oh, and there’s the whole sinking ship. Jack drowns, and Rose floats away on a piece of driftwood only to find the jaws of a great white. Wait, Rose didn’t become lunch for a hungry shark? I must have imagined that part. Whatever. Regardless, I know Céline Dione’s version of My Heart Will Go On, was a massive hit.
I also know that a lot of artists recorded their own version of My Heart Will Go On. Some of these covers sound comical, some of these covers sound divine. But serious, or whimsical, I feel the need to explore the diverse covers of My Heart Will Go On. So hop on board and enjoy the ride. Just watch out for icebergs.
Original – Céline Dion
You already know this version of My Heart Will Go On. It opens with an Irish sounding flute. Irish music was massive in the late 90s, and so was the movie Titanic – so this merger of the two forces was impactful. Moving onto the vocals course Céline Dion gives an amazing performance. Up until My Heart Will Go On, Dion was barely known outside of her native Canada, but her performance on this song made her a household name.
There are a couple of odd parts in the second part of the song. In verse 2, we hear Céline singing a duet…with herself. This might have sounded cool in the 90s, but now the duet sounds kind of creepy. Another oddity in this section of the song, In the second chorus, we hear a background vocalist sing “Why does the heart go on?” Uhh, that’s not the point of the song. The question feels out of place.
Despite the oddities of section two, section three of the song delivers! We hear Céline just belt out with her best voice the final chorus. Holy crap, The emotions in section three makes me forgive every flaw in the song.
All in all, the original My Heart Will Go on takes you on a slow and rough journey. Still, the destination does not leave you cold.
Cover – Sarah Brightman
When I heard track 7 of Sarah Brightman’s album “Eden,” it took me a while to place the song. Brightman sings the entire song in Italian, so I couldn’t understand the lyrics. Still, I knew the melody. And then I realized – this is My Heart Will Go On!
Yes, Brightman sings My Heart Will Go On entirely in Italian; that’s Brightman’s major contribution to the song. Oh, but how Brightman handles the third chorus is not to be overlooked. Just like Dion, Brightman belts out the third chorus like nothing you’ve ever heard. Brightman opens up her diva pipes and goes full-on operatic soprano. The effect shatters your brain and melts your heart.
As far as accompaniment, Brightman uses mostly classical instruments. A harp and other strings, some brass horns here and there. No flute, and that’s a shame. Still, you get a lot of drama in the strings – especially in the crucial last section.
My Heart Will Go On or Il Mio Cuore Va. English or Italian, the song brings emotion.
Cover – A Few Drunk Russians
Imagine if My Heart Will Grow On was a Russian drinking song. That’s pretty much what you get with the “A Few Drunk Russians” version of the song.
The drunken Russian version starts with an accordion playing the original flute part. An up-tempo and another accordion joins. A couple of deep Russian sounding vocalists slur the lyrics as if they’ve had way too much to drink. That’s….pretty much all there is to this song.
No one seems to know who these drunk Russians are. No one knows why they did this song. All we know is this parody happened sometime between 1997 and 2002. One thing’s for certain though. The first listen of the Russian version of My Heart Will Go On will make you say what the heck. The fourth will have you singing along.
A Few Drunk Russians singing My Heart Will Go On. What a fun version!
Cover – Gregorian
Gregorian, the brainchild of Michael Cretu and the spiritual successor of Enigma, reimagines pop and rock songs in the style of Gregorian chants. This genre experiment can get messy at times for sure, but with My Heart Will Go On, the result is beautiful.
The Gregorian cover of My Heart Will Go On starts with a violin playing the original flute part. A baritone singer (beautifully) explores the first section as a handful of classical instruments play in the background. During the second part of the song, an entire choir of male singers fill the song and blows my mind out the window.
As we’ve already seen, any serious version of My Heart Will Go On saves the best for last. That’s exactly what Gregorian does with their version of My Heart Will Go on. Every pseudo monk sings with all their might! The effect of the ensemble gives the listener a rush of euphoria.
This Gregorian Genre experiment gives one something to relax to on a stressful day.
Cover – Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
As Me First and the Gimme Gimmes evolve, they seem to go further from their punk roots. With My Heart Will Go On, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes take an almost country and polka mix.
There’s hand-clapping, there’s an accordion, and there’s a faster tempo than any other version we’ve heard yet. Meanwhile, Spike Slawson almost chants the lyrics. That’s pretty much the first two-thirds of the song. Oh, but what about the last third of the song? You know, the most crucial part? Well, they just kind of sang the line “Near, far, wherever you are” several times and then abruptly stop the song anti-climatic.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes could have done a lot more with this cover. At least the Russians were drunk when they did their version.
Cover – Celtic Women
Celtic Women begin their cover of My Heart Will Go On with little fanfare. A piano plays a quiet and slow few notes. A singer emerges out of the darkness. Another singer takes her place during the second stanza of the first verse. The two singers merge their voices during the chorus, providing a layer upon layered approach to the song. They continue the layering during the second part of the song. A flute creeps in. Yes, the flute is back! The third section goes as expected. The singers go all out. The instruments play loud and strong.
So, what’s so special about the Celtic Women version of My Heart Will Go On? Not a lot. It certainly sounds like a first wave cover. However, the vocals of Celtic Women sound amazing. Better than Brightman, and better than Dion.
Celtic Women just sound amazing.
Cover – Postmodern Jukebox
Imagine if My Heart Will Go On was recorded as a 1950s Motown song. That’s what you get with Postmodern Jukebox’s version. With a fast tempo, a rocking piano, and a vocalist who sounds like Jackie Wilson, this version of My Heart Will Go On would fit perfectly on any sock hop playlist.
I could dissect The Postmodern Jukebox version of My Heart Will Go On further, but why? It’s just fun and such an amazing piece of ear candy. Just dance to it already!
Which version of My Heart Will Go on makes us…go on?
I love every single version of My Heart Will Go On mentioned in this article. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have the weakest version, but even that version has its place. And sure, the drunken Russians is just a gag, but it’s a gag that doesn’t get old.
As far as the genre experiments, I feel they transcend the original. Both Gregorian and Postmodern Jukebox have their flaws, sure, but we ignore the flaws because of the effect they bring. Gregorian brings us peace. Postmodern Jukebox brings us a happy feeling.
So, what about the diva versions? Celtic Women sing the song beautifully. Sarah Brightman’s Italian translation adds a special touch to the song. Meanwhile, Céline’s performance is freaking top notch. Can there be a clear winner? Only if you blend the best aspects of these versions. Maybe if Celtic Women sang the song in Italian and with the vigor of Dion, we could call that the best version.
What’s more important, is the emotion we bring from My Heart Will Go On. We bring hope and perseverance in the face of tragedy. We know we will go on, even if we lose something or important to us. This is something important to grasp onto, especially right now. We may lose a lot. We may lose someone, a job, and our economy might fall to ruins. But we still have to cling to hope and perseverance.
I think I just convinced myself to finally watch the movie Titanic.